What is mental health? Mental health is a very broad term referring to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It’s about how people think, feel, and behave. Just like the definition for overall health, mental health is not only the absence of mental illness, it also refers to the presence of positive characteristics. Ohio 4-H is promoting mental health in January. In today’s post we discuss why mental health matters.
Why mental health matters
Mental health is important because it determines how people handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Positive mental health is important because it allows people to do the following:
- Realize their full potential
- Cope with the stresses of life
- Be productive
- Make meaningful connections to others
- Make contributions to their communities
Your mental health can change over time. It depends on many factors. Having good mental health doesn’t mean that people never go through bad times. Experiencing setbacks is inevitable – it’s part of life. It means we have the tools to cope with life’s challenges. It helps us keep problems in perspective and bounce back from those setbacks.
One of those challenges we are all dealing with now is the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 plunged us into a world of Zoom meetings in place of our usual face-to-face interactions. Life has been turned upside down by stay-at-home orders, school and business closures, and social distancing guidelines. We want nothing more than to return to normal, but are not sure when that will be. If you are struggling with mental health issues, you are not alone. A new survey commissioned by the National 4-H Council in the wake of COVID-19 found that 7 in 10 teens are struggling with mental health issues.
Key findings from the survey include:
- 81% of teens say mental health is a significant issue for young people in the U.S.
- 55% of teens say they’ve experienced anxiety, 45% excessive stress, and 43% depression
- 71% of those surveyed say schoolwork makes them feel anxious or depressed
- 65% of those surveyed say uncertainty about the future makes them feel anxious or depressed
- Practicing mindfulness
- Eating healthful food
- Being physically active
- Getting enough sleep
- Showing gratitude
- Limiting screen time
- Having fun!
When the demands placed on us are greater than our resources and ability to cope, it can have an impact on our mental health. Reaching out to get help is not a sign of weakness. Some mental health situations may call for professional help. If you or someone you know needs to be connected to professional resources, Ohio State University’s Center for Public Health Practice has put together Mental Health Resource Guides. Go to u.osu.edu/cphp/ohio-mental-health-resource-guides/, find the county you need, and select it to bring up local resources.
In 4-H we pledge our “health to better living” – that means mental health too. How are you helping your 4-H club learn about mental health? Download the Journal-Page-What-Can- My-4-H-Club-Do-to-Address-Mental-Health to get started on making a plan for what you can do to address mental health in your club.
Check out our Mental Health Month resources. And come back for more information and ideas!
Yours in Health,